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Magic hopes on the rise

The Lakers and Lamar Odom had trouble stopping the Suns’ Channing Frye, left, who found his shooting touch in Game 4.

Associated Press

The Lakers and Lamar Odom had trouble stopping the Suns’ Channing Frye, left, who found his shooting touch in Game 4.

ORLANDO — Not ready to go home just yet, the only place the Magic is headed is back to Boston.

Halfway to history.

Taking another step toward overcoming an improbable 3-0 series deficit, Dwight Howard had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 113-92 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

A series that looked like a sweep a few days ago now has the Celtics taking a 3-2 lead into a pressure-packed Game 6 in Boston on Friday night.

The Celtics are facing the possibility of playing it without Kendrick Perkins after their starting center picked up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs, a mandatory suspension unless it is overturned.

A potential Game 7 would be in Orlando.

No NBA team has won a series after losing the first three games.

The Magic, seemingly lifeless after a blowout defeat in Game 3, suddenly has hope to be the first. Orlando broke out of its series-long shooting slump, making 13-of-25 3-pointers.

"We all believe," said guard Jameer Nelson, who scored 24. "We know we can do it. One game at a time, we can make history.''

J.J. Redick had 14 to help the Magic to a frenetic pace that the Celtics couldn't sustain. Howard added five blocks as Orlando built an early 14-point lead that was never seriously challenged.

"We were aggressive," Nelson said. "We stuck to our game plan.''

Boston might be missing two key big men for Game 6. Glen Davis left Game 5 with a concussion and his status is unclear.

Davis was shaken up late in the third quarter and needed to be held up by referee Joey Crawford to keep from falling.

He was struck in face by Howard's elbow, tumbling to the court as play went the other way. Davis tried to get up, only to fall again, and was dazed as he got up.

He took a few more steps, then staggered toward Crawford, who wrapped his arms around Davis to keep him upright as play stopped with 9.7 seconds left in the period.

Meanwhile, Perkins was ejected with 36.1 seconds left in the first half. He and Howard were jostling in the post, and Perkins was whistled for his third personal. Perkins stretched out his arms and protested the call demonstrably, and referee Eddie F. Rush decided he went too far.

Howard's foul upgraded: Magic center Dwight Howard's foul on Kevin Garnett in Game 4 has been upgraded to a flagrant-one foul, the league announced. Howard grabbed a rebound with 6:25 remaining in the third quarter and swung his elbow, knocking Garnett in the face. That is Howard's second flagrant of the playoffs; two more and he will be suspended for one game.

Reeling Lakers find solace in going home

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers' swagger has been reduced to a stagger by consecutive losses in the Western Conference finals.

Channing Frye broke out of a horrendous shooting slump by making four 3-pointers for 14 points, and the Suns pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Lakers 115-106 late Tuesday.

Now Los Angeles realizes it can't defend its NBA title if it can't defend the aggressive, inventive Suns. Phoenix has scored 113 a game in the series, which is even heading into the pivotal Game 5 tonight.

The Lakers' fans got caught looking ahead to the NBA Finals after Los Angeles won the first two games with stellar offense that disguised two bad defensive games. Kobe Bryant and his teammates still haven't figured out how to guard the Suns, but Phoenix concocted a zone defense that has thrown the Lakers for a loop.

At least the Lakers are back at home, where they haven't lost in seven playoff games this spring.

"If you have the best teams in the West going up against each other, it should come down to a challenge like this," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "… This is what basketball at this level is. Like I told them, 'If you can't meet this challenge, then why go to the Finals?' "

The Lakers have been in this situation three previous times over the past two playoffs: a series tied at 2, with Game 5 at home. Los Angeles won each time, beating Houston and the Nuggets last season before trouncing Oklahoma City last month in the first round. Overall, they've won Game 5 seven straight times at home.

Up next

Magic at Celtics, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, ESPN
Celtics lead series 3-2

Suns at Lakers, 9 tonight, TNT
Series tied 2-2

Magic 113

Celtics 92

EAST final


Game 1: Celtics 92, Magic 88

Game 2: Celtics 95, Magic 92

Game 3: Celtics 94, Magic 71

Game 4: Magic 96, Celtics 92 OT

Wednesday: Magic 113, Celtics 92

Friday: at Boston, 8:30, ESPN

Sunday: at Orlando, 8:30, ESPN *

West final


Game 1: Lakers 128, Suns 107

Game 2: Lakers 124, Suns 112

Game 3: Suns 118,
Lakers 109

Game 4: Suns 115,
Lakers 106

Tonight: at Los Angeles, 9, TNT

Saturday: at Phoenix, 8:30, TNT

Monday: at Los Angeles, 9, TNT *

* If necessary

Magic hopes on the rise 05/26/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 7:40am]
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